Each project constructed by the Corps to solve a water resource problem must meet the criteria described below:
- The project must be complete within itself and not commit the Corps to further construction. The project must solve a specific problem and not require a subsequent project to complete the solution.
- The project must be economically justified; that is, the economic benefits from the project must be greater than the cost of the project. This ratio is usually expressed in the form of an average annual basis.
- The project must be environmentally acceptable. Consideration of the environment is an integral part of project planning. In all cases, the Corps prepares environmental assessments, which it coordinates with federal, state and local agencies, and the concerned public. In the more controversial projects, the Corps prepares an Environmental Impact Statement, known as an EIS.
- The sponsor of the project must be willing to assist with the project. This usually includes providing the lands and easements, with the rights-of-ways necessary for construction and maintenance of the project.
- Cost sharing is usually required. In addition, the project sponsor may maintain most projects. Responsibilities of the sponsor are described in detail in later sections.
- A governmental entity such as a state, county, or city submits a request to the Louisville District for investigation of a water resource problem. (Sample application letters are shown in later sections.)
- After receipt of the request, Louisville District will conduct an initial assessment of the problem. The Corps funds the initial assessment. This includes a visit with the local sponsor to determine the extent and nature of the problem, and whether a study is warranted. If justified, planning will proceed. If it is not feasible, the Corps of Engineers notifies the sponsor that it cannot provide assistance.
- Project planning will involve a Feasibility Phase. For Continuing Authorities Projects, up to the first $100,000 is fully federally funded. After that the Feasibility Phase is cost shared on a 50-50 basis. Specifically Authorized/General Investigation studies are cost shared 50-50 from the start of the study, and will be completed in 3 years, at a cost not to exceed $3 million.
- Following approval of the feasibility study, and Congressional Authorization (if necessary), the Corps prepares plans and specifications for a construction contract.
- Once funds are allocated and the sponsor provides the local contribution (lands, easements, cash contribution, etc.) the Louisville District advertises the project, solicits bids, awards a contract, and supervises construction of the project.