Army Corps of Engineers: Environmental Infrastructure Assistance

Updated February 27, 2020
Army Corps of Engineers: Environmental Infrastructure

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) undertakes
Although most USACE EI assistance requires cost sharing
water resources development projects pursuant to
at 75% federal and 25% nonfederal, some assistance
authorizing statutes and the receipt of appropriations.
authorities are set at 65% federal and 35% nonfederal. The
Traditional USACE projects for navigation, flood control,
nonfederal sponsor is the owner of constructed facilities and
and ecosystem restoration are authorized in omnibus
is responsible for 100% of operations and maintenance.
authorization bills often titled Water Resource
Development Acts (WRDAs). Since 1992, Congress also
USACE may perform the authorized design or construction
has authorized and provided for USACE assistance with
work, and often can use appropriated funds to reimburse
planning, design, and construction of municipal drinking
nonfederal sponsors for work the sponsors perform, subject
water and wastewater infrastructure projects in designated
to the availability of appropriations.
communities, counties, and states. This assistance supports
publicly owned and operated facilities, such as distribution
Authorizing EI Assistance
and collection works, stormwater collection and recycled
Beginning with WRDA 1992 (P.L. 102-580), Congress has
water distribution, and surface water protection and
authorized USACE to contribute EI assistance to more than
development projects. This USACE assistance is broadly
350 projects and programs, with cumulative authorizations
labeled environmental infrastructure (EI).
of appropriations totaling more than $5 billion. The
authorizations of appropriations for these activities vary
EI authorities generally are referred to as either in one of
widely from $100,000 for a water monitoring station to
two categories: Section 219 projects or EI projects and
$435 million for a five-state program.
programs (individually referenced by their authorizing
section). Section 219 of WRDA 1992 (P.L. 102-580), as
Section 219 of WRDA 1992 authorized design assistance
amended, includes various EI assistance authorizations for
for 18 projects, and six other sections authorized design and
projects (e.g., municipal drinking water, storm-water
construction assistance for EI assistance projects and
control) at specific geographic locations (e.g., city, county,
programs in select geographic areas (e.g., southern West
multiple counties). Other WRDAs and some Energy and
Virginia). WRDA 1996 (P.L. 104-303) added construction
Water Development Appropriations acts also have included
assistance to the Section 219 EI authorities. Subsequent
EI authorities—many of these are for EI programs with
USACE authorization and appropriation acts included
broader purposes and geographic scope.
authorizations for new EI assistance projects (e.g., WRDA
2007 [P.L. 110-114] added over 200 projects) and raised
No Administration has ever requested authorization or
the authorized funding ceilings for previously authorized EI
appropriations for USACE to perform EI assistance. The
Congressional Research Service (CRS) reviewed enacted
legislation likely to include EI assistance authorities and
Authority Modifications
identified authorized EI assistance in at least 44 states, the
A number of factors, including policies restricting
District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and
congressionally directed spending (earmarking), has limited
the Northern Mariana Islands. CRS did not identify
recent congressional authorization of new EI assistance.
authorities for EI assistance in Delaware, Hawaii, Maine,
However, in WRDA 2016 (Title I of P.L. 114-322) and
Nebraska, Vermont, Washington, and other U.S. territories.
WRDA 2018 (Title I of P.L. 115-270), Congress provided a
mechanism to modify existing EI authorizations (e.g.,
USACE Assistance
expand the location, amend eligible projects types, and
EI assistance projects are not traditional USACE water
adjust the authorization of appropriations) through the
resource projects and are not subject to the USACE
“Section 7001” proposal process. Section 7001 of Water
planning process (e.g., a USACE feasibility study is not
Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-
performed); however, EI assistance is subject to federal
121) requires USACE to annually submit a report to
laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act
Congress identifying study and project authorizations and
(NEPA). USACE evaluates an activity’s eligibility for
modifications proposed by nonfederal interests that meet
assistance by identifying whether there is an EI
certain criteria. Congress may consider these proposals as
authorization for the geographic area of the project, and
part of WRDA deliberations. For more information on the
whether the type of proposed activity is eligible under the
Section 7001 proposal process, see CRS Insight IN11118,
EI authorization.
Army Corps of Engineers: Section 7001 Annual Report on
Future Studies and Projects
The nature of USACE’s involvement and nonfederal cost
share vary according to the specifics of the authorization.

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Army Corps of Engineers: Environmental Infrastructure Assistance
Funding for EI Assistance
because other federal and state agencies have programs for
Congress regularly includes USACE EI funding in
which these nonfederal water projects may be eligible. A
appropriations bills. EI assistance is funded through the
related amendment to eliminate funding for EI assistance
agency’s Construction account in annual Energy and Water
failed by a vote of 12-84 during Senate floor consideration
Development Act appropriations legislation. Since 1992,
of FY2017 Energy and Water Development appropriations.
Congress cumulatively has appropriated roughly $2 billion
CRS Report RL30478, Federally Supported Water Supply
in funds for USACE EI assistance. Congress provided
and Wastewater Treatment Programs, describes other
USACE with $77 million for EI assistance projects in
federal programs that provide assistance to similar water
FY2019 and $100 million in FY2020 (see Table 1). In
projects on a competitive basis using established criteria
recent years, Congress has funded EI assistance as part of
(e.g., Environmental Protection Agency’s state revolving
the “additional funding” provided above the President’s
funds and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s small
watershed loans).
Table 1. Funding for USACE EI Assistance Projects
Figure 1. Annual EI Funding per State
($ in millions)

Fiscal Year

2016 2017
Total Funding
Funding per
Percent of
Source: CRS, compiled from USACE Work Plans (FY2016-FY2020).
Reports accompanying appropriations bills specify how the
Administration is to direct its use of these funds to
authorized EI assistance projects. The selected EI assistance
projects are identified in the agency’s work plan for the
fiscal year, which is typically available within two to three
months after enactment of appropriations. As shown in
Table 1, 32 EI projects and programs received a portion of
the $100 million provided in FY2020.
A subset of authorized USACE EI projects and programs
have received funding: 27 states with EI assistance
authorizations have received funding in the last five fiscal
years (see Figure 1). As with many USACE projects,
congressional support for appropriations of specific EI
assistance is complicated by the authorities’ geographic
specificity, which is impacted by earmark moratoria
policies. In recent years, USACE has funded ongoing EI
assistance. For FY2020 appropriations, Congress stated in
the accompanying explanatory statement that USACE may
allocate funds to one or two EI authorities that were not

previously funded. USACE chose not to include new starts
Source: CRS, using USACE Work Plans.
in the FY2020 work plan, though USACE resumed funding
Notes: EI assistance authorizations in 17 states, the District of
for two authorized projects for the first time since FY2010
Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern
and FY2014.
Mariana Islands have not received funding in the last five fiscal years.
Other Federal Assistance Authorities
At times, various Administrations and others have
Anna E. Normand, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy
identified EI assistance as a low priority for USACE, in part

Army Corps of Engineers: Environmental Infrastructure Assistance

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